Naomi Osaka is remaining philosophical after her return to tennis was cut short in a second-round defeat to Karolina Pliskova at the Brisbane International.
Former world No.1 Pliskova advanced to the last 16 along with reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, who sent a reminder of her star power in a 6-3 6-0 demolition of Lucia Bronzetti.
Osaka, however, will be left to go back to the drawing board after going down 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to Czechia’s “defending champion” Pliskova, who lifted the last tournament in Brisbane in 2020.
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Four-time grand slam champion Osaka had breezed through her tournament opener against Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch on Monday, in what was her first tour match in over a year after returning from giving birth to her first child.
But Pliskova gave the Japanese superstar a sense of the tougher challenges that lay ahead on the comeback trail.
Osaka looked good value when she took the first set in 37 minutes but Pliskova was able to swing the second in her favour and then eke out victory after getting a break early in the third.
“The week is definitely shorter than I wanted it to be, but overall I think it was a great match,” Osaka said
“I feel like I’m pretty good where I am right now. Even the last time I played her, I think I played better today.
“I think I’m pretty good. Like, the court is just really… It’s her court, you know what I mean? I guess I’ll see what happens in Melbourne.”
If there was one silver lining in defeat it was the fact that Osaka’s service game looked back to its best, the two-time Australian Open champion raining down 14 aces.